For this activity, a place is considered to be a geographical location, whereas a space might be an abstract state of being. Students will review methods of development and practice using definition, compare-contrast, definition, and description to define their place or space, noting how their style changes with each method of development. Students will ultimately create their own description and annotate their own or a peers’ for how specific rhetorical strategies were used to define and/or describe their chosen place or place.

While this lesson is specifically designed to work with the novel, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, it is easily adaptable for other texts or as a creative assignment that asks students to consider several rhetorical skills. Students will start by analyzing the descriptions of specific places and spaces in a text of the teacher’s (or student’s) choosing. A close reading of the narrative structure and specific descriptions should demonstrate the influence of words, phrases, images, etc., on a readers’ understanding of a place or space and convey the writer’s feeling about the place or space.


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Lauren Peterson (Master of Arts, Education) has been teaching AP® English Language and Composition in a number of states for more than ten years, most recently at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, where she is also the schoolwide literacy leader. Before this position, Lauren served as a curriculum and instructional coach in Duval County, Florida. Lauren worked for College Board on a pilot curriculum designed to both remediate common AP® English Language challenges and also prepare students for Microsoft Office Specialist Certification. As an independent consultant for the National Math and Science Initiative, Lauren has written diverse curricula used by students across the country as well as training materials for beginning and experienced AP® English Language teachers. Lauren served as an AP® English Language Reader and continues to work as an AP® English Language trainer for new and experienced teachers.